McCoy Tyner – Plays John Coltrane – Live at The Village Vanguard
Plays John Coltrane – Live at The Village Vanguard
(Verve – 2001)
by Phyllis A. Lodge
Plays Coltrane… is fantastic — clean, inventive with a well-knit camaraderie among the musicians. McCoy has always held drummer Al Foster in high regard, and he has been praising bassist George Mraz very enthusiastically for some time now. The three of them performed together recently at a Coltrane tribute in California, and the music they produce on Plays Coltrane is colossal.
These men have got it. Their musical rapport is easy and highly compatible. Naima opens the set, surpassing that of being simply another beautiful rendition of a Coltrane classic. It is the unfolding of a beautiful spirit, captured by musicians adept in translating spirit through music. Just listen to Mraz’s solo. Moment’s Notice gets the audience cheering! Foster’s rhythms create a silky aura around McCoy, and Mraz, does this brilliant solo that made me stop writing. The musician’s carriage of this piece is quick-witted and sure-footed. Foster’s solo crackles with electricity in all its acoustic splendor.
Crescent, one of my very favorite Coltrane originals, opens up a flood-gate of beauty. John breathed a magic into this number that has held me captive since it’s debut. Each time McCoy records it, I fall in love with the song all over again. It has a tremendous drop-time, loping feel that moves you steadily along in submission. McCoy does some of his dizzyingly delicious keyboard work here followed by Foster’s highly melodic drum solo. Mraz’s bass lights the number even more with a ringing, beautiful statement. Just wait until you hear McCoy’s solo on After the Rain. Brief, slightly unpredictable and leaving you waiting for more. Afro-Blue is a dramatic, exotic depth-filled waltz. McCoy’s keyboard seems to talk in tongues, while Mraz and Foster swirl majestically in tandem. It sounds as though McCoy’s expression catches fire on this one. Foster does some stuff with the tom-toms that calls up some true juju. And McCoy just dances lithely through I Want To Talk About You. His masterful touch gets the trio into this impeccably artistic, classic, plush sound that compels you to dance by yourself. Finally, the gentlemen take their time and work Mr. Day until you just holler: “Mercy!” It’s gutsy, smooth and all the way live. This is top of the line in the ‘must have’ category. Enjoy.